Good morning, Toon Army. I don't want to divulge anything specific, mostly because nothing's been finalized, but exciting changes are ahead for us. But you didn't come here for us; you came here for the Magpies...so, Tuesday's links are after the jump.
Cheik Tiote battles for possession with Didier Drogba, who in this instance has chosen to stay on his feet. Associated Press
Today we debut a new feature: Talking Points. Because of our policy of waiting a day or two to post a review (hence the name "Reasonable Reaction") and because there usually isn't enough news on the day of a game to merit a links post, we often don't post anything immediately following a game. This feature will change that. Following each game we will post some suggested talking points for all to discuss in the comments. (We know you're out there; the numbers say we've got readers, but no commenters. Consider this your invitation to join the conversation.)
Talking Points: 1. Are you happy to escape with a point against a top side, or disappointed to settle for a draw at home? 2. Are you satisfied with Sol Campbell and Steven Taylor in the back? 3. For the Shola Ameobi haters: Why? 4. Sort of a follow-up: Do you want Shola or Nile Ranger up front with Andy Carroll? 5. Chelsea: Bad floppers or the worst floppers?
Good morning, Toon Army. FC Dallas lost the MLS Cup last night, making them the third Dallas team in a row to go into a Championship as the favorite and lose. That sucks. Fortunately, the hand-wringing over Newcastle has been kept to a relative minimum.
I don't really want curly hair this week. Photo credit unknown; pulled from thesun.co.uk
Good morning, Toon Army. Vacation was very nice; thanks for asking. Rather than trying to recap a week's worth of news (injuries to Ryan Taylor AND Kazenga LuaLua? More Andy Carroll drama? Darren Bent says NUFC fans torched his car? I guess vacation is bad luck...), we will simply give you some previews for tomorrow's tilt against the Wanderers. Enjoy!
RKW and I are going on vacation this week. We and the wives will be hanging out in central Texas doing some fishing and lots of eating, to be sure. We won't be updating the blog until at least Saturday unless something huge happens. I know that RKW has a review of the Fulham match still to post (I've seen the draft, but I'm not sure when it's going up), so watch for that. Here's hoping we come back to a new assistant manager.
Well, I look silly. I predicted this match would be a race to three goals and both teams would be scoring goals. A 3-2 Newcastle win, I said. Five total goals. If I'm being honest, I actually thought it could go higher than that. So of course it all ended up in a 0-0 tie. Follow us past the jump for the complete review.
Colo vs Davies, meh. Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA via Guardian.co.uk
Earlier in the week and in more than one article we have said that Cheik Tiote was suspended for today's game due to receiving 5 yellow cards. It has been brought to my attention that he in fact only has 4 to his name, so he is eligible to play today. We apologize for any confusion.
In lieu of a proper preview for this match, and in order to get to know our opponent for this weekend's match a little better, we (or I should say RKW did; I had little to do with it) got together with Russ Goldman of Cottagers Confidential, a Fulham FC blog, and we exchanged some questions and answers. Listed here are the questions we asked with his answers. To see the other side of the conversation, go here. Many thanks to Russ.
CHN: Since we're Americans, and more than that Texans, we have a soft spot in our heart for your Clint Dempsey. Tell us how the Fulham fans feel about Clint. We know the American personality can sometimes be tough to mesh with English teams, but it seems like Clint fits right in.
Russ:To be honest, Clint Dempsey is what brought me to Fulham and the initial reason I became a fan of the club. I think Fulham fans have really taken to Clint. He has scored some key goals for the club. I know many fans will never forget the goal he scored against Juventus in the Europa League last season. I think it might have been the best goal ever scored by an American in a European club competition.
CHN: What's Fulham's biggest fear coming to Saint James' Park? To put it another way, a few reasons why you could lose this match.
Russ:Well, Fulham have not won a road game since last August at Portsmouth. Winning on the road is a major issue for Fulham. They are playing better, but still have not found a way to win. I think some injuries in back are concerning and could make Fulham vulnerable. Both Chris Baird and Carlos Salcido should be out for this match. Stephen Kelly is average at right back and Matthew Briggs is a promising player at left back, but he is very young. Also, Fulham are below average at best at defending set pieces. This has been a concern for awhile for the this club.
CHN: What do you feel are the Cottagers' biggest strengths matching up against NUFC? In other words, give me a few reasons why you could win this match.
Russ: I think Fulham have an emerging star up front in Moussa Dembele. I think he is close to breaking out with a big game. He is a player for Newcastle to keep an eye on. Also, if Danny Murphy has a strong game in the central midfield, Fulham could be on their way to a victory. He is really the engine of Fulham in the middle and feeds the guys up front.
CHN: Aaron Hughes and Damien Duff are both Cottagers now, will they start? How will it be for them to roll back into Tyneside?
Russ: Both players I expect to start and have big roles in this game. I am sure both players will want to put on a big performance against their former side. Both players are integral parts of Fulham and when they are out, Fulham are not as cohesive of a club.
CHN: Cheik Tiote and Joey Barton have been in steadfast control of our midfield, especially over the last several games. They will both serve suspensions this weekend, how well does this bode for Fulham? Gamechanging?
Russ: This could be a huge advantage for Fulham. As I mentioned before, Danny Murphy is really the key to Fulham. When he plays well, the club seems to win. The reason being is he sets up the offense like a point guard in basketball. His passing helps create scoring opportunities for the strikers up front.
Good morning, Toon Army. There was so much content on the Joey Barton situation that I felt the need to make a separate post covering it all. I'd like to think that with a match coming up on Saturday that all of the attention will calm down over the next day or two, but I have a feeling that we'll be writing about this for weeks to come.
Punch in the chest: 3 games. How many would it have been if it was in the face?
Joey Barton has decided not to appeal the FA's decision to charge him with violent conduct, meaning he will be suspended for the next three matches, which are against Fulham, Bolton, and Chelsea. He also apologized to just about everybody he could think of. (Lee Ryder, The Chronicle) Blackburn forward Jason Roberts had some harsh words to say about Barton, (Sky Sports) while Morten Gamst Pedersen, the recipient of Joey's punch, invited Joey out to dinner as a peace offering. What a class act. (Simon Bird, MirrorFootball)
Meanwhile, since Joey Barton is a lightning rod for criticism, people from all over are taking the opportunity to say their peace about him. The Guardian listed all of Barton's indiscretions without commentary, then Barry Glendenning and Rob Bagchi of the same publication said, among other things, "a leopard cannot change its spots." Harry Redknapp chimed in as well (What on earth is doing writing for The Sun of all things? Oh well, another topic for another day...), saying that Barton's indiscretion will definitely hurt Newcastle's play for the next three games. Simon Bird of MirrorFootball says that all of Joey's progress that he's made over the last few months was erased in just a moment. Lee Ryder says that all of the criticism aimed Barton's way is overblown.
UPDATE: Fixed the links. According to The Sun (and various other sources, see this), Joey Barton has been charged by the FA with Violent Conduct for punching Morten Gamst Pedersen on Wednesday.
The charge means that Barton will likely be suspended for the next three games. A three game suspension is never good, but it's especially bad timing as Cheik Tiote will be forced to sit for one match as he has now picked up five yellow cards.
Sometimes as I put together the links for each new day, I feel like all I'm doing is writing about Andy Carroll. That's not a bad thing, and certainly not unexpected. Carroll does, after all, wear the storied #9 jersey and he's a talented young striker that makes news on and off the pitch. It follows that people would want to write about him.
I've read so many of these articles that I feel like I could write them myself. Carroll, the talented but troubled young Geordie, has the opportunity to play for a top side in his own backyard. He scored 19 goals last season and is now out to prove that he can score against Premiership-level teams. Recently, a former footballer came out and said that Andy Carroll can be an all-time great if he can keep his affairs in order. Fabio Capello hasn't called him up to England yet, but he's scouted him several times and surely he'll get the call this time. Insert a joke about Captain Nolan wiping his bottom at home, and you have a standard Andy Carroll feature.
I'm not trying to say that each feature I come across doesn't have its own intrinsic value; I like reading about the talented young striker that plays for the team I cheer for. But the fact that so many of these articles contain much the same material makes this piece by Kevin McCarra of The Guardian that much...weirder, for the lack of a better term. I'm struggling to figure out what McCarra is trying to accomplish here. He seems to say the following: Carroll is good, but probably not that good, because Newcastle were just promoted. He'll probably get the call anyway because England is sort of low on strikers at the moment. Also, Chelsea said that they wanted to poach him, so that's a good segue to talk about what the big clubs are doing right about now and how they could benefit from a better striker.
I know it seems strange for me to pick a random article out from a reliable publication and nitpick it. I just don't know what else to do with this bit of writing. Andy Carroll: The enigma that confuses defenses and sportswriters alike.
You know that feeling you get when you turn on Match of the Day 2 and The Toon have made the cut for the show? Multiply that feeling times 10 and that's how I get when I see that Newcastle has received the Zonal Marking treatment. It's the little things in life that can give us great joy, and the week after a 1-0 win is always joyful. Read and yes...enjoy.
It's called Red Rover on our side of the pond but I think its title has something to do with bulldogs in the UK. At anyrate it fits more comfortably as in my title if I use the US name.
The midweek games are here and what better time to start them than when your side has just come of three straight wins. The first of these will be against a middle of the table Blackburn side. That middle of the table placing may be deceptive though. Follow us past the jump to find out why.
Let me first say that I have never felt more anxious about a half of football than Sunday's second half at Emirates. But, I'm on record saying how well this team plays when it is the first to score a goal, and I had faith in not only that, but Hughton's ability to manage that slim lead to the end. After four minutes of stoppage time, it turned out that my faith was not misplaced.
First of all, I would like to apologize for not having a links post with previews up this morning. An elder lady that was very important to me passed away early this morning, throwing both my work and personal lives into disarray. (Those of you who know what I do for a living will understand.) Since RKW works nights and happened to be working last night, I was unable to rely on him as a safety net as I so often have.
In any case, nothing will take away from the joy that comes from a 1-0 victory over a top side. The Magpies are in excellent form, to say the least, and the fact that they were able to get this result as News of the World was spreading nasty rumors about a "cocaine orgy" at skipper Kevin Nolan's house makes it even sweeter. RKW will post a proper review in due time, so for now, let's all take joy in the following two facts:
(1) Midweek games are finally here! We play Blackburn on Wednesday, and there's no better time to play three games in a week than at a time when the team is playing well together.
(2) Newcastle stands alone at #5. It seems like every week I read previews from other team sites that take every opportunity to call this team "newly promoted," which, while technically true, does not tell the whole story. This is not a fresh new team that is intimidated by the Premiership. Take notice: As of this moment, Newcastle is a Top 5 side. We may not stay there, but 17 points in 11 games sounds good to me. Enough sermonizing; let's let the table do the talking.
On Sunday NUFC will look to end a ten game drought against Arsenal, but the last time we came off such a decisive win the next few games looked rather poor. Here's hoping that the lads have learned that lesson.
Injuries remain largely the same as Gosling, Harper, Best, and Ben Arfa will be unavailable. Sol Campbell has seemed doubtful but insists that he wants to play in this game. Steven Taylor should also be ready after playing an hour in the Reserves match agains Wigan.
I expect to see much the same side that faced S*nderland on Sunday, playing much the same style that saw that unlucky loss at ManC. Ameobi has certainly bought his place at the front and I cannot see Perch winning his place back with what Danny Simpson has shown in these last two ties. I expect the side to look something like this: --------------Krul------------- Simpson---Colo---Willo---Jose --------------Tiote------------ Barton-------Nolan------Jonas -------Ameobi----Carroll------
NUFC are 11/1 dogs for this tie and I expect the game to go a bit like that. Don't get me wrong I don't think points here are completely out of the question, but I think it's fair to say they are unlikely. A hard fought loss won't be anything to sneeze at. NUFC 1-3 AFC.
Another day, another player coming out in support of Chris Hughton. Today it's Steve Harper. (Luke Edwards, The Journal) Harper is hoping to come back before Christmas. (Paul Fraser, The Northern Echo)
Danny Simpson remembers what happened after Newcastle beat Aston Villa by a wide margin - they fell off the next week. He says the team is not taking anything for granted. (Mark Douglas, The Journal)
As we reported a couple of weeks ago, former Magpie Paul Gascoigne has had trouble with the law recently, and he appears to have made it worse by making bad jokes during his latest court appearance. (CaughtOffside)
Cheik Tiote answered fan questions on the NUFC Official Site. It's clear from his answers that he's nothing short of a class act.
While the Unwashed were busy getting their clocks cleaned by The Toon, one of our Twitter followers humorously asked, "Hughton Out?" It was such an off-the-wall (and of course, tongue-in-cheek) suggestion that I literally laughed out loud. Surely nobody wants Hughton out after that glorious day, right?
Following the drubbing of the mackems, several local and national writers spoke out about Hughton's contract situation and what the most recent result means for negotiations. Mark Douglas of The Journal says it's time to reward "shrewd" Chris Hughton for his "stunning work." Louise Taylor of The Guardian concurs, saying Hughton's position was "strengthened immeasurably following the Derby win.
However, two writers of MirrorFootball offered some commentary about just why nothing has gotten done yet. Simon Bird has a lengthy article about Mike Ashley and the board of directors playing hardball with Chris Hughton. David Anderson of MirrorFootball adds that the tension be a result of Hughton not being a "big enough" name for Ashley. Frankly, I find Ashley's position on this absurd, and I know I'm not the only one. Hughton has done everything that's been asked of him and more with little resources, a problem which belongs to the owner, by the way. Sure, things could go south. The Magpies have shown some inconsistency this season, no doubt. But I fear that if Ashley, et al, continue to hold such a hard position, their relationship with Hughton may be damaged beyond repair. Extend him now, before another Premiership team snaps him up and we have to face him twice a year!
Chris McQuade of EPLTalk posted his "Top 5 Transfer Flops of the Season, So Far" earlier this week, and one James Perch is listed at #5. I don't want to get into what McQuade's entire list should look like, but I disagree with Perch's inclusion.
I think the reason Perch was included is that his numbers simply don't look great. Much was made of the fact that he was forced to sit out after just 5 games due to discipline problems, and he had an own goal against The Potters of the "wrong place at the wrong time" variety, but we all know how those can be blown out of proportion. He has had a couple of games where he looked out of sorts - the Wigan match jumps to my mind immediately.
However, he has also been a solid replacement for Danny Simpson - a needed one. Can you imagine the back line without Perch? Simpson, Steven Taylor, and Sol Campbell have all gone down with injury. At times there has actually been competition for selection, but at other times there have been exactly 4 viable options at defense to choose from. I suppose you could argue that another transfer could have come in and done the job just as well or better, but for 1 million pounds, I don't see Perch as wasted money.
Offensively, the chemistry between Perch and Routledge (when he plays) has been critical in getting the ball down the right side of the pitch. The combination of playing a high defensive line and experimenting with different combinations of wingers on the right side could be the cause of Perch's defensive miscues - at times it looks as if he's unsure about how aggressive he's supposed to be. Does this make Perch a flop? Not in my mind.
In fact, I wouldn't even call Perch the biggest flop of the transfer window for Newcastle. That honor belongs to Sol Campbell, who couldn't see the field early because of match fitness and can't see the field now because of injuries. Sure, it's unfair to give him a grade that's anything but an incomplete, but how can you not be disappointed? Campbell was supposed to provide on the field veteran leadership, and has instead been an absentee. Perch is relatively young and has shown plenty of promise. To call him a flop when another defender from the same transfer window has had much less of an impact is simply unfair.
RKW and I went to Game 5 of the World Series last night and watched the wrong team win it all, so please forgive us for taking a few hours off. We have plenty more to say about the mackems and we're already looking forward to taking on The Gunners for real, so stick with us.
For now, head over to CaughtOffside to see a video of each goal. Below is my personal favorite: Goal #4.